In a recent address to members of the profession, the President of the Family Division of the High Court of England and Wales, Sir James Munby, impressed upon his audience the importance of ‘moving to the digital court of the future’.
He spoke of the implementation of ‘the entirely digitised and paperless court’ and said that only when that is in place will we ‘at last, have escaped from a court system still in too large part moored in the world of the late Mr Charles Dickens’.
It is an undeniable truth that our legal system is considered by many to be archaic and arcane, and many aver that it has remained this way to keep lawyers in a job. But times are changing and those at the top of the legal profession recognise this as much as the litigants-in-person attempting to navigate the system that updating, modernising and simplifying is required in order to offer a workable and accessible service.
Sir Munby acknowledged the increasing number of people either forced (predominantly for financial reasons) or opting to conduct their own cases in the family courts, and observed how up until now, despite being a legal system which is forward looking in individual circumstances, the family courts provide only solutions rather than having the ability to examine and address the underlying problems which gave rise to the court action.
With fundamental changes to the system which oversees family disputes, corresponding changes to the roles of family law professionals have been inevitable. Some have seen it as the beginning of the end for this section of the legal profession, but as Sir Munby opined, ‘the civilised world has always needed lawyers’ and ‘will always need advocates’.
The key, therefore, is to provide a service that is both required and accessible. Political debate aside, it is true that people will always seek advice from experts to ensure that what they are doing will succeed. Major Family Law has a reputation for its innovative and forward-thinking approach to service delivery.
We like to think Major Family Law equals Modern Family Law. By constantly researching and implementing new ways to make top-quality specialist advice and representation accessible and affordable, the practice bucks the trend of family law practices in decline.
Having been at the forefront of the social media revolution, Major Family Law was an early proponent of offering clients both out-of-hours and remote access to advice by way of video conferencing services such as Skype and FaceTime. This not a case of replacing expert legal advice from experienced qualified professionals; rather it’s about finding ways to offer clients maximum value for money with the minimum impact on both their time and ours.
In addition to offering remote appointments, the firm has developed relationships with other lawyers and legal practices in other parts of the country and also abroad in areas with a high ex-pat population.
Our most recent appointments include two experienced lawyers on a consultancy basis who are based in London and the surrounds, allowing individuals in other parts of the country to access Major Family Law’s expertise in their own locality but without the hefty London rates, and also to allow local clients trusted and on-hand representation when cases are transferred or listed in London and the southern circuits.
Having satellite personnel available to advise clients, combined with the policy of encouraging clients to seek advice or assistance for specific issues within their case, rather than placing the firm on a retainer as is traditional practice, is ensuring that individuals are not left without access to the support they require to properly resolve their problems.
Photo: Joanne Major (left) and the team at Major Family Law